Indoor shooting access isn’t going to be considered at Craigholme till October with no decision likely till early November. Even then the chances of being allowed inside look down right nebulous … so we may be outdoors all winter. Now shooting al fresco in the winter is something that not many outside the insanely hardy have experienced. Unless you have shot an Ironman or a Frostbite round, the idea of being outside in winter with your bow is probably going to be more alien to you than some of the residents of Area 51. So what do you need if shootie in the freezing cold is the only way you can get your archery fix?
Obviously when the temperature drops you are going to need to stay warm but you cannot just bulk up clothing without it getting in the way of your form and the string. That’s frustrating like you won’t believe. So … here are a few things to wear ensuring you stay warm while shooting but won’t add to your archery woes.
A Hat: Here you need a beanie or woolly ski hat. This will keep your ears warm and will retain a great deal of your body heat which is lost through the head. The sillier the better as it keeps the other archers spirits up when they get to see you in a winnie the pooh hat.
Compression T-shirt: A long sleeved, cold gear, compression T-shirt like the ones made by UnderArmor are fantastic for retaining warmth. In addition they are skin tight meaning they don’t impede shooting at all. In addition add one or two tight, into the body, normal tops. These multiple layers form heat traps that keep you warm.
A cheaper but perfectly viable alternative to UA is Decathlon ski wear top (WEDZE) whose products are warm, comfortable and not as expensive. These may only be available online at present depending when you read this.
Lined Trousers: Companies like Craghoppers do hiking trousers that are lined so keeping warmth in the lower body. If lined trousers aren’t possible, the alternative is long ski underwear (again see Decathlon’s WEDZE ski kit) and indeed you can have both on for extra warmth.
Jacket: You don’t want a thick jacket. This is something else that will get in the way of your form or the string. Think more wind breaker with some water resistance if its snowing or raining. Alternatively a gillet (a sleeveless jacket resembling a waistcoat) can keep your core warm while allowing free movement of arms and no impediment to the string. Don’t forget your chest guard will be extremely useful when wearing a jacket and remember to tuck the bow arm side of the collar inside the jacket.
Gloves: A pair of gloves i.e. ski gloves not marigolds, driving or evening wear (although those do come up to the elbow which is useful – see tubular bandage below) are pretty important. If you finish shooting before the last person on the line, get those gloves on before your hands turn into small blocks of ice. Also wear when walking to collect your arrows. Again, Decathlon WEDZE kit is good value.
Socks: You have no idea how much heat can leech through your feet so thick socks are pretty much de rigueur! Along with sturdy footwear obviously.
Tubular Bandage: A great way to gather up any loose clothing and tuck it out of the way are tubular bandages. They are elasticated tubes so when pulled on over loose clothing, they immediately compress them into a state that they don’t get in the way of the string. One on your bow arm is ideal then your bracer on top. Every archer should have at least one of these cheap but useful items in their kit all the time.
Hand Warmers: These fall into the categories of reusable or chemical. Either do the job. Sticking one in each pocket is a toasty nirvana although just one is fine. Between ends these stop your hands freezing. Believe me shootie is impossible if you can’t feel your string through your tab or in extremes of weather … can’t feel the tab!
A Flask: Ok … its not the flask that’s important, its the Coffee or Tea or Soup or Mulled Wine (remembering drink driving restrictions) in the flask. Honestly, you will look forward to that beverage break every 12 arrows! Just remember toilet facilities are non-existent at present as the pavilion is still off limits.
So there you have it, shooting in the freezing cold is doable. It just takes a little more preparation and a little more resolution on the archers part to get out of that warm bed. Don’t think just because its cold means you have to give up your archery that week. You just prepare a little more thoroughly … and be a little bit mad. ;o)
(note: in winter 2013/14 our editor shot on his own, in sub zero temperatures, snow, freezing rain and howling gale for at least 2 hours every single Sunday! Admittedly he’s not right in the head .. but with the right clothing and attitude, archery is possible, even ‘fun’ in those conditions … if you like that sort of thing!)